FOODSTOCK, Wesleyan University's food writing conference, celebrated cooks, books, food, and food writing during a one-day extravaganza of panels, lectures, and book signings. Held on Saturday, May 5th, FOODSTOCK was curated by Amy Bloom, the New York Times best-selling author and University Writer-in-Residence. Over 325 participants took part in the conference, which sold out in the first week.
Ruth Reichl, the former executive editor of Gourmet magazine and current editorial adviser to Gilt Taste and editor-at-large at Random House, began the day in conversation with WNPR's Faith Middleton. Reichl and Middleton discussed the importance of knowing the history of what one eats--where the food comes from and the legacy of the recipe. Reichl praised cooking at home and the dinner party, not as a luxury but as a necessity: "We are losing something so important when all we do is eat out. Bringing people into your home, saying this is who I am, cooking food for people, we need to return to that and start cooking again. The dinner party is more about what happens around the table than what's on the plate." The morning continued with Middleton and Eric Asimov, the chief wine critic of the New York Times and the original author of the "$25 and Under" restaurant reviews, speaking about wine as more than mechanical: "Wine is a living, breathing work of art. It is magic in a bottle and should be respected the way a painting would."
Lunch featured an array of Connecticut food truck cuisine, including Lucky Taco's Dr. Pepper braised chorizo and adobo marinated shrimp tacos, Munchie's Lebanese fish fry wrap, Naples Pizza Truck's margarita pizza cooked in the truck's portable wood burning brick oven and Lalibela Ethiopian's siga wat dressed with ginger, onions, and berbere spice. Items for sale included books from R.J. Julia, trail mix from Sticky Nuts, cooking utensils from The Kitchen Store Guilford, and cupcakes from NoRA Cupcakes.
"We wanted to cover a wide range, to have a sociological take -- nothing too rarified," said Amy Bloom. "We wanted a wide range of people who loved to eat, cook and write about it. Our focus was not just on the fancy and the famous."
The afternoon hosted cooking personalities of all kinds. Panels included From Lokshen to Lo Mein: The Jewish Love Affair with Chinese Food, Beautiful Blogs, Food as a Topic of Academic Pursuit, The Business Of Food, and Sustainable Cuisine, which featured sustainable sushi from Miya's Sushi. Individual lectures were given by Dorie Greenspan on authoring a cookbook, Molly O'Neill on Writing So They Can Taste It, the future of Italian cuisine by Paolo Villoresi and kimchi by Chi-Hoon Kim, Raymond Sokolov on restaurant criticism, and Chef Bobo on teaching kids to enjoy eating.
Visit FOODSTOCK for podcast recordings of each session, which will be available soon.